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Can Your Pet Get You Arrested?

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Pet owners are responsible for just about everything their pet does. If your pet hurts someone or damages property, you could be sued in court. But can you get arrested? Here are a few situations to consider.

Dog Bites

If your dog bites someone other than a burglar or trespasser, you will usually be liable in a lawsuit for their injuries. However, most dog bites are not a crime.

The only time police would get involved was if you did something intentional or reckless. For example, if you sic your dog on an innocent person walking by, you'd probably get arrested for assault.

Reckless acts include having good reason to know your dog might bite and not taking steps to avoid the situation. For example, if you let a dog with a history of biting off of its leash near a playground, you might be charged with reckless endangerment.

Pet Shoplifting

If your dog is in a store, such as a pet store, and eats food or destroys merchandise, you'll usually just be responsible for paying for it. However, if you know your dog is doing this and don't control them, it could be considered the same as if you were shoplifting and lead to your arrest.

Having an Illegal Pet

Federal, state, and even local laws regulate what animals may be kept as pets. This includes federal laws protecting endangered species, state laws prohibiting owning dangerous animals like chimpanzees, and city laws banning owning chickens within city limits.

Whether or not you can be arrested depends on the type of law that was passed. Some laws do make having an illegal pet an arrestable criminal offense. This is especially true with endangered species and dangerous animals.

Most local laws, such as no farm animals in city limits, are only civil offenses that just result in a fine. However, if you refuse to pay the fine or get rid of the pet, you may eventually be arrested for contempt.

Breaking a No Pet Rule in Your Lease

If your landlord has pet rules, breaking them is not a crime, so you can't be arrested. However, landlords are free to set whatever pet rules they want except when it comes to service animals.

If you have a pet that's not allowed under your lease, you could be faced with an eviction.

If your pet did something bad and you're worried about the legal consequences, contact a local criminal defense attorney today. For more information, visit a site like